RIPLEY, W.Va. — A national health advocate and her journalist husband helped open two pulmonary rehabilitation centers in West Virginia Thursday.

Grace Anne Dorney Koppel of the Dorney-Koppel Family Charitable Foundation and Ted Koppel, who most notably hosted ABC’s “Nightline,” opened the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary Rehabilitation Centers at Jackson General Hospital in Ripley and Roane General Hospital in Spencer to provide treatment for those diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COPD is a group of diseases related to breathing problems and is the third-leading cause of death in the country.

Dorney Koppel said she knows how it feels living with COPD, as she was diagnosed in 2001.

“I was only given a few years to live, but at the same time, I was given a prescription by my doctor to take pulmonary rehab,” she said. “I was lucky because I live suburbian Maryland and was only a half-hour away to take pulmonary rehab.”

Dorney Koppel said COPD is a significant problem in West Virginia that needs to be addressed.

“West Virginia leads the nation in diagnosed COPD patients, and 12.5 percent of the state has COPD,” she said. “It’s an area of which you have a lot of prevalence. It’s an area where people truly need help.”

According to Dorney Koppel, rehabilitation includes learning what medications to take and how to recognize changes, as well as understanding exercises and nutrition.

Including the most recent opening, the Koppels have funded 11 clinics nationally, with seven facilities in West Virginia. Thursday’s opening at Jackson General Hospital was the result of a $100,000 joint donation between the Dorney-Koppel Family Charitable Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

The other facilities are at Cabin Creek Health in Dawes, the New River Health Association in Scarbro, Boone Memorial Hospital in Madison, Southern West Virginia Health in Man and Southern West Virginia Health in Hamlin.

MetroNews affiliate WMOV Radio in Ravenswood contributed to this report.

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